Trains halted, Punjab faces power scarcity
The power situation has turned grim in Punjab with thermal plants nearly running out of coal stock, with movement of coal rakes suspended for about a month —first because farmers protesting against the new farm laws were blocking the tracks, and now because the railways is not allowing freight services to the state.
“The Centre is targeting Punjab by suspending the goods trains in the state because farmers and the government here have opposed their anti-farmer laws,” Punjab minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said on Friday.
The protesting farmers had on October 21 exempted good trains from their rail roko agitation against the farm laws brought by the Narendra Modi government, and services had resumed. But days later, the railways suspended the services alleging that the tracks were still blocked.
On chief minister Amarinder Singh’s request to resume freight services, railway minister Piyush Goyal sought the state government’s assurance on the safety of trains and their crew.
Minister Randhawa said: “Let the government of India officials themselves go and check if the farmers are still squatting on rail tracks. Barring one track in Jandiala Guru, where too train can be diverted via Tarn Taran to reach Amritsar, other tracks are free. On Jalandhar-Pathankot section, in Bathinda and in Ferozepur, tracks are free”.
Punjab State Power Corporation Limited chairman-cum-managing director A. Venu Prasad on Friday said out of five thermal plants, only one is running. “Coal stock of Nabha Thermal Plant at Rajpura and Talwandi Sabo Power Limited in Mansa has been completely exhausted.”
“In three other power plants, stock available will last only for 2-3 days and for emergency purpose or critical events we have kept that. In view of the situation, we are purchasing 1,500 megawatts to 1,700MW from power exchange, but it is unpredictable, sometimes we get, sometimes we don’t and at what rates we are going to get we don’t know….
“Therefore, as of today, the situation has assumed serious proportions. So, if current uncertainty continues, power board and power consumers may face difficulties,” he said.